Driving while jamming to your favorite music on your vehicle system is legal. But is it illegal to drive with earphones or headphones in Ohio?

It may appear safe to use headphones or earbuds while driving since you are, in theory abiding by the growing number of “hands-free” rules in states and localities around the country. Right?

To be honest, it depends on where you’re driving. Since there is no federal law against using earphones while driving, state regulations are the only ones that matter. 

While regulations in other areas are significantly less restrictive, several jurisdictions expressly cite safety concerns in making driving while using headphones or earbuds unlawful. Here is a quick rundown of those laws.

Is It Illegal to Drive With Headphones: States Where Using Headphones While Driving Is Permitted

Currently, it is not illegal to use headphones while driving in the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Dakotas, North
  • Oklahoma
  • Carolina, South
  • Dakota, South
  • Tennessee
  • Texas Utah Vermont
  • North Carolina
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Always check the most recent state legislation that applies to your state. For instance, is it prohibited to use headphones while driving in Texas? No, yet there are several instances where patrol officers have stopped cars for driving dangerously while wearing headphones and issued them a penalty.

States Where Using Headphones While Driving Is Illegal

The following states now have laws that expressly forbid using headphones while driving a car:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Exceptions

You should be mindful of any variations from certain states when requesting, “Can I wear headphones while driving?” Current instances of legislation include the following:

  • Is it unlawful in Colorado to drive while using headphones? Yes, however, taking a phone call in one ear is permissible.
  • Driving with headphones is forbidden in Florida, although headphones are permissible while taking a call in one ear.
  • Georgia – Headphones are forbidden in Georgia unless you are making a phone call in one ear.
  • Massachusetts – Headphones are presently only authorized in Massachusetts when used for navigational purposes, for as, while using a talking GPS.
  • New York prohibits the use of headphones in more than one ear.

Pennsylvania – Except while accepting a mobile call in one ear, headphones are forbidden in all situations in Pennsylvania.

Is It Illegal to Drive With Headphones: Why is it Dangerous to Wear Headphones?

Headphones have been outlawed in a few states because they might contribute to unsafe driving. It may appear those little earphones should not affect your driving; after all, you can still see clearly. However, this is not the case. Here are a few reasons why driving with headphones is dangerous. 

Hearing Emergency vehicles.

The first thing to note is that using headphones while driving seriously impairs hearing. As a result, you can have trouble hearing emergency vehicles, and you might hinder their ability to pass.  

It Deters Attention.

Driving while distracted is a big issue. Every year, distracted driving accidents claim the lives of almost 3,000 people. Sometimes using headphones while driving might lead to distraction. Your attention is not entirely on the road, which increases your risk of hitting pedestrians, missing red lights, and veering into other lanes, among other things.  

When driving around abrupt turns, stopping for trains, or changing lanes, listening for traffic is crucial, even if you’re unaware. You can’t stay secure if you don’t have access to this sense.

When You Might Want to Wear Them

Despite the risks, there are several situations in which wearing headphones can be acceptable, depending on whether these situations are lawful in your native state.

When Taking a Call on One Earbud, Only

Wearing a single earpiece to take the call hands-free is preferable to picking up your phone if you must accept a call while driving.

Many jurisdictions do let you drive with just one earbud in, but be aware that there’s still a potential you might receive a distracted driving citation if there is an accident. 

When It’s Necessary for Your Work

Using headphones for communication in noisy environments is common among construction workers, trash collectors, and emergency vehicle drivers. Their equipment enables them to perform their work effectively. They are excused from the headphone requirement.

Is It Illegal to Drive With Headphones: The Consequences of Driving While Wearing Headphones

If you’re found driving with headphones in a state where it’s against the law, you might pay a fine and even have your insurance rates go up. Since each state has its laws, the fine you must pay will differ depending on the state.

In Texas, for instance, breaking the law while wearing headphones might result in a $200 fine for reckless driving. You can receive a prison sentence depending on how serious the event was. 

Maryland is another case in point. For distracted driving incidents that result in harm or an accident, Maryland applies the contributory blame standard. The victim will not receive compensation if judged to be even minimally at fault. 

So, if you’re using headphones when someone smashes into you, the fact that you were using them may make you at least somewhat accountable. You could receive no compensation as a result of that. 

Using headphones in Illinois while driving is prohibited. Violators risk a $500 fine and liability for any harm they may have caused. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is driving with Earpods illegal?

Nine states outright forbid using headphones while driving. Alaska, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington are some of these states.

Is it illegal to drive with earphones in Ohio?

Section 4511.84 | Operator may not wear earphones or earplugs. (A) It is against the law to drive a car while wearing earbuds over one or both ears.

Is it illegal to bike with Earphones?

Many states have rules that forbid bicycles from donning earbuds, headphones, or other similar devices. Cycling earphones are legal in California, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Virginia, but only in one ear. The California Vehicle Code (VC 20102) forbids using headphones by bicycle riders.

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